Axel Lidenbrock (LEE-dehn-brok), called Harry in some translations, the narrator and nephew of Professor Otto Lidenbrock. Although he shares his uncle’s love of geology, Axel does not match the old man’s scientific curiosity; he does not endure the hardships of discovery as willingly, preferring the comforts of home to exploring the depths of the earth. Although it is Axel who deciphers the coded message that leads to the center of the earth, he does not immediately reveal it to his uncle, fearing precisely the sort of mad dash into the earth that his uncle eventually leads. Axel’s lack of a scientist’s temperament is illustrated by his chronic hunger, contrasting the professor’s habit of ignoring meals while involved in his research. Axel is afraid of the dangers of the voyage but hides his fear so that he will not be shown up by the brave Hans Bjelke. Axel’s decision to stay with his uncle instead of turning back is a pivotal point in the novel.
Professor Otto Lidenbrock
Professor Otto Lidenbrock, called Professor Hardwigg (HAHRT-vihg) in some translations, a professor of philosophy, geology, and mineralogy at a college in Hamburg. Tall and thin, with large spectacles hiding his round eyes, fifty-year-old Lidenbrock is the archetypal scientist. He refuses to accept theories about the earth’s core until he has proven them by...
(The entire section is 451 words.)